Writing with Purpose

Our culture dictates that good people are productive, and in the Midwest, hardworking people create things that have purpose. Even though I was writing every day, my non-writing time was becoming a contest, between my inner self that delighted in writing for no purpose other than joy, and my social self that was flailing about, looking for an assignment to complete, for something to create.

Then I found an amazing online writing program. I'd done a few online courses in the past, but I'd always been vaguely disappointed. Sarah Selecky's online class, The Story Course, however, is different. First, it's a beautiful online experience, with a gorgeous and welcoming layout. The course contains a blend of how-to text, video tutorials, stunning story examples and writing exercises that let you graze the surface and dive deep into writing the concepts.  There are chapters you can print out if you like the gravitas of paper or you can scroll and read online - and it's all optimized for mobile.

In the course's seven parts, I learned and played with the finer points of free writing, starting a story, character development, dialogue, plot, point of view and receptive reading.  And once you pay for the course you have access to the materials forever. No time limits, no hurry to complete before the links expire.  This became even more valuable as I had an unexpected family health issue arise a few weeks in and I had to put the course on temporary hold.

Selecky understands that our state of mind deeply influences what we bring to our writing. She is able to convey "the how" of writing that lives beyond the craft. Taking this course, for example, made me believe I could remember again. As a busy mom with a full-time corporate job before taking this course I deeply questioned my ability to pull forth details from my past that were needed to enrich my stories. I would sit and stare at my notebook with only vague recollection of what I thought should be important moments. After an exercise in Chapter 1 on free writing though, I found myself writing about things I thought I'd long since left in my childhood. And by delving into the finer points of creative writing, the course offered me a new level of confidence in my writing skills that hadn't existed before, which further fueled my desire to keep writing.

As I moved through the lessons, I felt purposeful in my writing and eagerly looked forward to the next chapter. Ideas and words flowed without resistance. After working through The Story Course, I had the seeds of a strong story and had developed pages and pages of creative writing to support it. In its own way, the course itself had become the answer to creating something.

 For The Story Course:


 For Story Is a State of Mind school:  



This article first appeared in Mary Kay Shanley's Words and Other Worthy Endeavors in March 2017


Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash